Averell, Adam (1754–1847), Primitive Wesleyan clergyman, was born 7 May 1754 at Mullan, Co. Tyrone, son of Adam Averell and Mary Averell (née Johnston). He spent some time in his childhood with his grandmother Johnston. His relation John Averell, bishop of Limerick, for whom his father acted as agent, offered to pay for a classical education for one of the family, and Adam was selected. Even though his benefactor died in 1771, Averell was able to proceed to TCD in 1773, because the provost, Francis Andrews (qv), was John Averell's nephew. He was tutor in the family of Sir Richard St George from 1774, and though very young was left in charge of all his employer's affairs. In 1777 he took his MA, was ordained a deacon in the Church of Ireland, and continued for some years as tutor and occasional preacher. He married (18 December 1785) Elizabeth, daughter and heir of the Rev. R. Gregory, of Tentower, Queen's Co., where the Averells went to live with their daughter (b. October 1786). Averell was successful in managing his wife's estate, and except for 1789–91, when he was curate of Aghaboe nearby, he was not attached to a parish.
Despite childhood influences and earlier piety he was opposed to methodism, and lived as most clergymen did at the time; he was a keen huntsman, and took part in the social life of the neighbourhood and of Dublin. In 1787 he was asked to preach against the influence of methodism, and to prepare his discourse read some of Wesley's writings, and was struck by their message. At the same time, he was taken seriously ill while attending private theatricals. When he recovered, he changed his lifestyle and took to preaching to informal groups and at methodist love feasts; in 1796 he was accepted into the Methodist Conference.
He encountered opposition from neighbouring clergymen, and also from his wife, who objected to his using her house for evangelical meetings, and particularly disliked extempore prayer. In 1797 she left him, taking their daughter with her; he continued to derive his income from her property, making her an annual allowance until her death (1813). His daughter then inherited her mother's property, but was reconciled to Averell, and they lived together thereafter. He travelled widely through Ireland, preaching and testifying, and (as his journal vividly relates) encountering both physical opposition and physical manifestations of religious conversions. Though only in deacon's orders, he regularly administered the sacrament of communion; it is noteworthy, nonetheless, that throughout his career, and especially in the controversies of 1816–18, he supported Wesley's policy on the sacraments, insisting that only clergy of the established church should celebrate communion, and maintaining that the methodists were not a separate denomination. He himself remained in communion with the established church until his death. In 1818, after the split in the methodist movement, he helped found the Irish Primitive Wesleyan Conference and was elected first president; he was greatly respected, and was reelected annually until 1841. He died 16 January 1847 at Mount Salem, near Clones, Co. Monaghan. His journal, partially reprinted in an 1849 memoir, is a good source of information on his career and on contemporary evangelical affairs. The location of his manuscripts is unknown.